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Managing Organisational Change

14 February 2011

Richard Garland outlines the RIC's new Information Paper – Managing Organisational Change – Developing the Plan for Change - the first part of a 2-part series for property professionals.

Commissioned by the RICS Management Consultancy Executive Group, Managing Organisational Change - Developing the Plan for Change, is the first paper of two about Organisational Change. Aimed which although aimed primarily at those surveyors who are assisting clients with organisational change or are re-organising their own professional practice. It will also be relevant to many organisations, change managers and consultants at this time.
Change is inevitable, and whilst it can make a significant and positive difference, for many it is likely to be a worrying and problematic experience. Planned or unplanned, from the growth in service organisations and subsequent knowledge based strategies, to the growth of the public sector and rise in outsourcing, we appear to be faced with a greater rate of change than ever before.
Many organisations currently have a strong focus on cutting costs, improving efficiency or increasing effectiveness. Whilst for others there may be a demand for an approach to lean construction, initiating ISO compliance, and formalising new processes in order to improve competitiveness.
Our understanding of the near and far environments drives the context for organisational change. To consider the challenges of the far environment we can carry out an analysis of the social, technological, environmental, economic, political and legal factors STEEPL) influencing change, as well as utilising Porter’s 5 Forces framework, which can help us identify the changes acting within a particular industry or sector.
Set these alongside an understanding of the businesses current functional, symptomatic and morale near drivers – for example why do we exist, how do things work here and how does the current culture affect what we do - to build a detailed picture of what is pulling and pushing on the business.
Whatever the event, and however we perceive the priorities of these drivers, we must get to grips with how strong or weak these environmental signals for change are. Whilst a strong signal, such as legislative change, may need immediate attention, a weaker signal, such as a growing change in consumer attitude, may be regarded as a business opportunity, as opposed to something to be concerned about in the future.
Developing a plan for change should begin by assessing the organisation’s strategic robustness to its business planning, defining whether or not the current strategy will hold up to the potential or proposed change. This should also enable us to consider how prone to change the issue is likely to be, and allow us to look at the options and models available to us for making the change happen.
Whilst many people may be familiar with programmes such as six-sigma, options will vary, and may include the instigation of lean thinking to deal with low productivity, improving communications to make management more open or even a change in attitude to sort out the current businesses short term approach.
Supported with real case studies, provided by practicing Chartered Management Consultancy Surveyors (CMCS), this paper, and the subsequent part 2, sets out to lift the fog surrounding organisational change.
Whilst it cannot promise to make the process of change successful, it should assist in helping us spot the signals, recognise the need to change, set it into context, define it and ensure we bring some analytical structure to our way of dealing with change in its many forms.
As surveyors and property professionals we must embrace change and see it as omnipresent, accept some ambiguity, learn to be good scanners of our environments, improve our sense making capabilities and develop our ability to take a wider view.
Ultimately change should be positive, improving our competiveness and creating opportunities for future growth and development.
Richard Garland MBA, MRICS, is a Director of Gradient Consultants, and a practicing chartered management consultancy surveyor. Charles Millar, the Author of the RICS Information Paper, is a change management consultant.

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